I imagine most of us, if not all of us, would do our best to avoid suffering. It is an experience we do not find pleasant. It is an experience we probably would not choose to hear on the day we profess our faith. After all, this is a day of joy and celebration. Many of us would still be in our teens at that stage of life and, if you are like me, quickly push aside those first words of 1 Peter 5:10, 11:

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

They hardly seem relevant, especially to us who have grown up with so many privileges.  This tends to make us believe that we are entitled to a life free of suffering, and we are going to do everything we can to make this happen.

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The Word of God Abides Forever

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

Memory Work

She had been a member of the Free Presbyterian Church all her life. Faithfully and diligently she had read the Scriptures and memorized multiple sections of the Word throughout her life. Now, during the autumn of her life, she started to lose control of her faculties little by little. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, that degenerative disease which leaves a human being ultimately as a mere shell, at a vegetative level. 

The minister of her congregation visited her faithfully in the care facility where she now resided for a number of years, recounts Rev. Alan Cairns to his audience. The time came that the minister could not have a conversation with her anymore. He would greet her, mention his name, and ask after her well-being, but would not even receive a signal that she was aware of his presence. She was essentially cut off from all human communication and relationship. Effectively, she had already left this world behind.

“But,” recalls Rev. Cairns, “then the moment came, after he had chatted in monologue for a while, that the minister took out his Bible and started to read from the Scriptures. To his amazement he heard a soft, quavering voice speaking the same Scriptures which he was reading. Whereas no communication at all was possible anymore, whereas she needed full-fledged help from bed to toilet and to mealtimes, when it came to God’s Word, she actually came alive and spoke!” All the memory work she had imbibed all through her life was still there, even with everything else gone!

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Psalms of Lament

We are familiar with the Psalms. We sing them every Sunday and many of us have grown up learning them by heart. Within them we find written expression for the range of emotions relating to the human experience. There are a number of different types of psalms, the most common type being the Psalms of lament. These Psalms are cries of anger, protest, deep distress and doubt, all brought before the Lord. The psalmist is in a desperate place and is crying out to the Lord for help, for deliverance.

Let’s learn to use the Psalms of lament as a means of expressing our own emotions and needs to God.

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